Jane Austen and Mary Crawford – which is which?

Emily Auerbach in Searching for Jane Austen states that “Austen gives Mary Crawford the breezy tone and sharp bite of her own letters” and asks  “Which of the following is from an Austen letter and which is a remark by Mary Crawford?”:

“What a difference a vowel makes? If his rents were but equal to his rants.”

“It is a vile world, we are all for self and I expect no better from of us. But though Better is not to be expected, Butter may, at least from Mrs Clements cow”

“Expect an agreeable letter; for not being overburdened with subject – (having nothing at all to say)- I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end”.

“It is impossible to put an hundredth part of my great mind on paper”.

Its not too difficult but a very interesting comparison.


6 Responses to Jane Austen and Mary Crawford – which is which?

  1. After pondering overnight (see it took me a little while and I didn’t google, Julia), I go for 1 and 4 as MC. Besides thinking about how these might fit in the novel (!), a clue is I think that the punctuation and overall expression in 2 and 3 are less polished. They read more like a letter that’s been dashed off. No. 3 and 4 are the trickiest to decide about – but I can’t quite imagine JA saying 4 in that way; there’s a little more tongue-in-cheek I think in 3. I can certainly see Auerbach’s point though! There IS a similarity in wit, bite and wordplay.

    • 11elsey says:

      Well done Sue, you’re spot on especially in that the clue lies in the punctuation and the use of capital letters. It is an interesting comparison. Anna

  2. juliae1 says:

    I recognised the first three quotes: Mary Crawford’s being about Mr Yates, I think. The fourth was more obscure, being really very Jane-ish! Being impatient, I did google it … and found it in a letter to Fanny. The whole letter is very Janeish so I think Auerbach made a very interesting discovery.

  3. jessiet1 says:

    Like Sue, I pondered and the more I pondered I was quite sure that both had said/written all of them (!) although 1 did stand out as Mary’s. It somehow had the flavour of Mary’s ‘Rears” and ‘Vices’ . It certainly is an interesting observation of Auerbach’s and makes me realise how superficial my reading is and how great it is that we can share with one another our discoveries – thanks Anna.

  4. 11elsey says:

    Auerbach always makes me think. She also believes that Mary is in part based on Eliza de Feuillide who once said,” I always find that the most effectual mode of getting rid of temptation is to give way to it”.

  5. juliae1 says:

    So that is where Oscar Wilde got his famous saying about temptation!
    I’ve just found out that Mary’s pun on Rears and Vices is not nearly as rude as it sounds to modern ears … apparently she is referring not to sodomy but to Le Vice Anglais, which, in those days at least, was well-known as the fetish for being spanked.
    This was laughed at on the Continent as being peculiarly British.
    That’s bad enough at a neighbour’s dinner table but not as bad as it might be.

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